Research Projects

the power of storytelling

Academic Scholarship

studying storytelling and persuasion

As a rhetoric scholar and creative writer, my interests focus on the use of narratives to persuade audiences. My research involves two distinct lines of inquiry:

  1. What is effective storytelling, from a rhetorical perspective?
  2. How does technology influence the creation and delivery of stories to audiences?

My research goals include:

  • Identifying characteristics of effective narrative forms within various genres;
  • Employing narrative as a persuasive device, particularly on stage and screen;
  • Teaching narrative composition skills to empower self-advocacy;
  • Adopting narrative and literary techniques to explain scientific and technical concepts to general audiences; and
  • Exploring the history of narrative composition and distribution technologies.

For more information on my research on the rhetoric of narratives see:

Additional Interests

Rhetoric of Economics

Economic theories fascinate me as an entrepreneur, and as a student of philosophy. If analytical logic could lead to “the truth” in economics, we would not have so many economic schools of thought — and sects within these schools. What might studying economic debates through the prism of rhetoric reveal about the dominant thinkers and their adherents? What leads one set of economic theories to “win” public policy debates? Why are economic (and political) debates in the United States dominated by Keynesian and Chicago school models of economics? Exploring the rhetorical failures of the Austrian School, in particular, could advance scholarship in both disciplines.

Philosophy and Fiction

Additionally, I research the influence of Continental Philosophy on writing, particularly modern fiction and new media. The term “existential” is used to describe many works of fiction, but does the term apply? Is existentialism misunderstood by critics of fiction, placed under the heading “postmodern” for convenience? The need to understand the “self” is a major element of fiction, especially in works arguing that existence itself is illogical or absurd.

Philosophers, even those challenging “meaning,” tend to create complex lexicons. They do this because meaning and clarity do matter to them, even while they argue meaning is personal.

If It Involves Words…

I am curious about how we develop writing skills, how we employ those skills, and how writing has shaped society in general. The written word has allowed humans to communicate skills, share information, and archive histories. Words also allow us to express emotions and beliefs.

We recognize that all writing can be “rhetorical” in nature. Fictional works, such as Shakespeare’s Richard III, shape our views of society and history. Teaching students the power of words is important to maintaining democratic ideals.